Monday, December 14, 2020

Winter is coming...

Copyright 2020 Robert Mesrop
Well, actually -- winter is here. Not officially yet, but today feels like winter because we had a light sprinkling of snow all day (and the forecast has a big storm on the way for Wednesday...). 

Today, I spent several hours in a Zoom watercolor workshop that has kept me busy each Monday morning since the end of August. It's been a great discipline, and there have been interesting challenges posed by our workshop instructor, Robert Mesrop. Our final session for this term was devoted to tree branches, something I have struggled with forever. Robert provided a photo of a large, and very gnarly, Weeping Beech tree in Yarmouthport MA. (right) The focus of this exercise was partly on conveying depth through foreshortening -- no easy task. Since the reference photo targets the branches and not the background, for me the challenge extended to how I could suggest the background yet not allow it to "take over" the painting. 

I began by sketching a light outline of the main shapes of the branches. Mixing a thin wash of gray using Ultramarine Blue and Sepia, I tinted sections of the background, first dampening the area and then dropping color into each section created by the intersecting branches, one at a time. I  avoided making the wash too smooth by using the side of my #6 round brush, which helped ensure variation in tone. My paper is #140 Fabriano Artistico rough, making it easier to achieve a dappled, instead of a flat, background.

I added color, emphasizing certain parts of branches by using a darker wash of Sepia to suggest shadows, and highlighting other sections with a thin wash of Burnt Umber. I also built up more variation in the background, with alternating washes of color. 

I thought I was finished, so I signed the sketch and took a few photos with my phone.

But I realized that some darker tones  would enhance a few areas and make the depth more clear to the viewer. Finally, I was satisfied with the finished product. This session was a nice conclusion to my extended period of Zoom watercolor workshops with Robert Mesrop, and I look forward to continue to stretch my learning curve in 2021.    

"Winter Branches"
transparent watercolor  7.5" x 5.5" unframed

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